Garden Theatre

12 W. North Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

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Showing 1 - 25 of 46 comments

DavidZornig on March 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm

This unfortunate update was in the CT News Forum, but somehow didn’t make it to this page.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on December 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm

1971 photo of auditorium here:

Wellington1 on April 20, 2013 at 10:45 am

Check out this vintage photo from 1927. Dorothy Gish is on the marquee and the coming attraction is Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS.

geoffdingle on October 27, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Six face sex charges after Garden Theatre raid
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh police raided the Garden Theatre on the North Side on Monday and arrested six men on sex charges.
Homer Kline, 73, and Aaron Freeman, 58, were charged with indecent assault after police said they grabbed the genitals of undercover officers as a way to initiate sexual encounters.
Four other men were charged with lewdness and indecent exposure: Barry J. Donahey, 52; Stephen R. Arnal, 48; Thomas Henry McCracken, 58; and Ronald Elvin Etheridge, 63.

TLSLOEWS on July 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

Nice photo Don.

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on July 12, 2010 at 9:24 pm

From 1971 a photo postcard of the Garden Theatre in Pittsburgh.

TLSLOEWS on February 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm

You are so right Susan.

SusanD on January 27, 2010 at 12:00 pm

With the advent of VCRs, this had to be one of the last porno theatres anywhere.

LouisRugani on September 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm

(The Valley Independent, Thursday, August 24, 1972)

X-rated films save Pittsburgh theatre closing

PITTSBURGH (AP)-Bambi, Snow White, King Kong and Godzilla are in trouble in Pittsburgh. The kids don’t want to see them anymore, say the operators of a local theatre. Only X-rated films, low budget scorchers once found in tiny back-room theatres, saved the historic Garden Theater from closing its doors.

Lee Hoffman, who co-manages the theatre with her husband Bob, says the “kiddie” movies were lucky to draw 15 oe 20 children on a good day, not nearly enough to put food on our table. “We tried the X-rated movies and they really stimulated the gross,” she said. “We had the choice of changing the policy or closing our doors."The Suckers,” “The Adult Version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Ribald Tales of Robin Hood” are some of the films which have replaced Walt Disney and other general attraction movies at the Garden.

Though the money is better, the newfound wealth is not understood by some. A small band of youngsters picketed the theatre earlier this week demanding “Kids' Power,” hollering for films they could attend.
“We told them that we don’t like these X pictures,” Hoffman said.
“Look at these records,“ his wife declared. "I remember this one especially. We showed matinee of ‘War of the Gargantuas’ and ‘Revenge of Godzilla.’ Nothing. A few kids and five adults.
"I don’t know where the children are going,” Mrs. Hoffman continued. “It used to be different. I remember a few years ago we played ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla’ and we broke records. The theatre was packed. We sold 40 bags of popcorn.”

jock411 on March 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

i also remember haveing a tooth extracted @ the dentist upstairs. can’t remember his name, but have hated dentists ever since. lol

DavidZornig on March 11, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Fortunately, Ken Mc’s recent 2007 article post indicates that they were only looking for a slogan, and not a new name for the Garden Theatre.

I would hope they keep the name and classic marquee as is, and only add Performing Arts Center or whatever.

There’s also hope that the interior pics posted in 2007, where indicative of the theatre’s relatively original state at that time. The original seat frames can be sand-blasted and repainted, etc. And what little view their was of the interior appeared to have never been mordernized.

As far as a new slogan, I’d go with: “A Garden Grows In Pittsburgh”.

jock411 on March 11, 2009 at 3:04 pm

i remember seeing Bambi there……..Disney’s Bambi

kencmcintyre on February 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm

Some locals suggest new names for the Garden, from an article of April 2007:

rivest266 on September 19, 2008 at 4:49 pm

1999 article on microfilm at View link

jflundy on April 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

An August 23, 1946 photo of the Garden with a PRY PCC Car in foreground is here:
View link

kencmcintyre on February 28, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Here is a 2/12/07 article from the Carnegie Mellon University newspaper:

raubre on June 18, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I found this old pic of the Garden from the 60s

bobs on May 22, 2007 at 10:43 am

Found some good historic pictures in the Library of Congress page and can be seen at:


You may have to “copy & paste”

Homeboy on May 22, 2007 at 4:35 am

Excerpts from an article that appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper, May 9, 2007:

The Garden opened “without publicity” in 1915, according to a profile compiled as part of the Library of Congress' Historic American Building Survey. Its original owner was one David E. Park, a bank vice president. According to the NABS, the theater’s name was chosen “as a pun on the name of the owner” so it wouldn’t be confused with the Park Building Downtown.

Park passed away in 1917, and in 1924 his son sold the Garden to Bennett Amdur, who’d been managing the facility until that time. Amdur ran the Garden until his death in 1970, and left the interior essentially unchanged.

To be sure, Amdur made some concessions to the times. During the silent-film era, the auditorium was fitted out with a pipe organ â€" the first organ to be seen inside the the¬ater, but by no means the last. But the organ was later taken out, the HABS reports, and bestowed to a church. Amdur also later added amenities like central air conditioning.

But for the most part, the struc¬ture retained its 1920s-era furnish¬ings, which Amdur had copied from a New York City theater. The Garden was built with an upstairs ice-cream parlor, elaborate lighting fixtures and its distinctive landmark marquee. To varying extents, all these features survive today. (Although the marquee outside was once even more elaborate; the original collapsed under a snowfall in January 1958.)

During his lifetime, Amdur insisted on showing only the most family-friendly entertainment. In a
1970 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article published shortly after his death, the Garden’s acting manager said Amdur “kept a clean place and wouldn’t even show Frankenstein.” But three years later, the Garden was sold to “Penn-Ally Enterprises,” which rechristened the build¬ing as the “New Garden Theater” and began showing adult films.

Adult theaters like the New Garden became common in 1970s since it was the only way many urban theaters could survive in the era of the suburban multiplex. During a 1999 hearing, Garden Theater manager Robert Caplan testified that the Garden had only two choices: Go X-rated, or go out of business. “We could no longer get [enough movies] to stay in business,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review quoted Caplan say¬ing. But when the fare was adult films, they made money “all the time.”

In the mid-1990s the Mattress Factory, a nearby art museum, proposed a redevelopment plan in which the Garden would be used as a meeting, exhibition and community center. The city tried to seize the building through eminent domain, but in 1997, the Garden’s then-owner, George Androtsakis of New York City, fought the seizure in court. Androtsakis displayed impressive staying power: He owns numerous adult theaters in the Northeast, and he’s fought against government seizures elsewhere as well. His decade-long legal battle ended in February. The theater is now shuttered pending redevelopment.

hisgirlfriday on May 9, 2007 at 10:12 am

Check out some interior photos of the Garden here:

View link

raubre on April 15, 2007 at 1:58 am

Great picture Patsy!

bobs on April 14, 2007 at 4:52 pm

Any info on the 3/23 Hillgreen-Lane organ Opus 578? Is it still there or has it been sold?